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NSW Government announces periodic risk-based liquor licence fees

Issued: Friday 11 April, 2014     [PDF,148kb]

Minister for Hospitality, George Souris, has announced details of the Government’s annual risk-based liquor licence scheme, the latest element of its reform package to make the State’s licensed venues safer.

“This scheme will hit bad venues where it hurts most – the hip pocket – and encourage good operators to stay on their game,” Mr Souris said.

“It will also ensure that anyone holding a licence contributes annually to the cost of maintaining a strong regulatory and compliance system.”

Mr Souris said the vast majority of NSW licensees are law-abiding people who put the safety of patrons first. Three-quarters of the State’s 18,400 licensees would only pay a base fee of between $100 and $500 a year.

“Premises trading past midnight will pay an additional levy to reflect the increased risk associated with longer trading hours,” Mr Souris said.

“Venues with a poor compliance record will attract a risk loading for this as well as additional

risk loadings for patron capacity and location. Venues that don’t have those risks - and don’t cost as much to regulate - will not.”

NSW licensees have been paying a one-off application fee for a new or existing liquor licence – and not a cent more, regardless of how long the licence remains in existence.

The scheme brings NSW into line with other jurisdictions where annual, risk based licensing fee schemes help fund the cost of running the compliance system. These include Victoria (2009), Queensland (2008) and the Australian Capital Territory (2010).

Implementation will allow licensees time to modify their operations and avoid higher loadings, and allow the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) to bring in online payments.

“The Government announced its intention to bring in this scheme as part of its comprehensive package of measures to address alcohol-related violence and we are now delivering on our promise,” Mr Souris said.

“The fees are modest when considered over the course of a trading year and reflect the very real costs of compliance – such as putting licensing inspectors into the field.

“The fees are also structured in a way that minimises the impact on small community-based clubs and independent bottle shops.

“The bottom line is that more than 75 per cent of the 18,400 licensed venue operators across NSW will pay a base fee of $100-$500 each year.”

Loadings will not apply to restaurants without a primary service authorisation, small bars, accommodation venues or caterers.

Venues such as surf clubs or bowling clubs that only occasionally host events running after midnight can apply for a $40 ‘one off’ licence and avoid the trading hours risk loading. Surf clubs and sporting clubs that hold an ongoing limited multi-function licence are not subject to the trading hours risk loading.

OLGR will provide an online calculator to allow licensees to easily calculate their likely fee. OLGR estimates suggest up to 20 percent of licences may be relinquished in response to the scheme’s introduction. Most are expected to be restaurants that are no longer trading.

Under the new scheme, annual base fees will apply from the 2014-15 financial year and be applied to hotels ($500); registered clubs ($500); general bars ($250); small bars ($200); onpremises venues including licensed restaurants ($400); producer/wholesalers ($500) and multi-function limited liquor licences ($100).

Base fees would also be applied to bottle shops where the licensee or a business owner has

three or less outlets ($500 per licence); bottle shops where the licensee or a business owner

has four to nine outlets ($1,000 per licence) and bottle shops where the licensee or a business owner has more than nine outlets ($2,000 per licence).

Late trading venues will pay $2,500 above their base fee if they are authorised to sell alcohol between midnight and 1.30am on any day, or $5,000 if they are authorised to sell alcohol between 1.30am and 5am on any day.

Higher risk-based loadings apply from 2016 based on a venue’s compliance record for the previous calendar year.

Venues caught breaching their licence conditions, committing an offence under the Three Strikes disciplinary scheme or being on the Violent Venues List, however, will incur a range of extra risk-based loadings for non-compliance. This will include:

a compliance history risk loading of $3,000 if convicted of one offence in the previous calendar year, rising to $6,000 for two offences and $9,000 for three or more offences. Level 2 Violent Venues will be subject to the $6,000 loading and Level 1 Violent Venues the $9,000 loading. Venues on the Three Strikes register will pay $3,000 if they have one strike in force, $6,000 if two strikes in force, and $9,000 if three strikes in force.

•  a location risk loading of $2,000 (triggered by compliance history) for venues located within the Kings Cross Precinct or Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct. Other precincts can be prescribed if necessary with the result that venues liable for
the compliance history risk loading would also have to pay the location risk fee; and

a patron capacity risk loading (also triggered by compliance history) of $1,000 if venues have a capacity of 60 persons or less, $3,000 for 61 to 120 persons, $5,000

for 121 to 300 persons, and $8,000 for 301 persons or more.

For further information on NSW’s annual liquor licence fee system